Friday, April 18, 2014

More people should “work like psychiatrist”

This post started out to be about Charles Krauthammer, a name most Americans know (he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1987) , but midway through it my emphasis changed. I do not know whether any subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who happen to be reading this in far-flung regions of the former empire are familiar with Charles or his writing, but we Americans can see him and hear him at least five days a week on Rupert Murdoch’s little station.

This link will take you to Charles’s most recent column from The Washington Post, “Thought Police on Patrol.”

And this one will take you to his next most recent column, “The Myth of Settled Science.”

I predict you will either love him or hate him and what he has to say.

But even if you disagree vehemently with his opinions, he has an impressive life story. Here is the article about him from our old friend Wikipedia.

While putting this post together, I ran across an article about Mr. Krauthammer written by Brian (no surname given) on a website called PEOPLE.FAMOUSWHY (for the inquisitive, there is also a PEOPLE.FAMOUSWHO and a PEOPLE.FAMOUSWHEN) . Although English is obviously not Brian’s first language, I thought he acquitted himself very well. It is what it is, a laudatory piece in simple language. In the process, Robert Burns’s words have come true. Some pow’r Brian has gie'n us the giftie of seeing oursels as ithers see us.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Those wonderful people out there in the dark

As Yorkshire Pudding and maybe Pat (an Arkansas stamper) know,
I grew up in the little town of Mansfield, Texas, when it boasted fewer than a thousand residents and a one-block-long business district with a traffic signal at either end. Today Mansfield has more than 60,000 residents and lots of traffic signals, but never mind.

There wasn’t much to do in Mansfield when I lived there. There were high school football games on Friday nights during autumn. For a while there was a popular teen-age hangout/burger joint/dance venue called Curry’s on the north edge of town. It’s been gone for decades, but I worked behind the counter there in 1958, serving up burgers and fries and milk shakes right beside Mrs. Curry and her daughters Wanda and Suzy. In 1959 a local boy, Billy Hogg, built the Kow-Bell Indoor Rodeo Arena just down the road, and it drew folks from all over, but it’s gone now, too, torn down in 2004 to be replaced with the town’s fourth high school, Legacy High School, which welcomed 2,100 students on its opening day in 2007. But I digress.

The only steady entertainment in Mansfield in the old days was the Farr Best Theater, which had been run by the Farr family since 1917. In the years I sat before its silver screen it was run by Milton Farr, Mary Ann’s father. Mary Ann was a couple of years ahead of me in school and we took piano lessons from the same teacher. (Historical note: Mansfield had only two piano teachers in those days, Miss Clara Malone and Mrs. Alyne Eagan. Mary Ann and I, along with Loretta Turner and Butch Evans and Barbara Pigg and a few others, took lessons from Mrs. Eagan until she married a Mr. Cyrus and moved away to Las Cruces, New Mexico. I’m digressing again.)

Tickets to the Farr Best Theater were 25 cents for students -- this was in the days when a haircut at C.B. Gilstrap’s barber shop cost 75 cents -- and I remember sitting at the Farr Best and watching such unforgettable classics (it is to laugh) as Golden Earrings starring Ray Milland and Marlene Dietrich, and Destry Rides Again starring Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich (I think Mr. Farr had a thing for Marlene Dietrich) , and Repeat Performance starring nobody I ever heard of except Richard Basehart, and even Them, a science fiction thriller starring a nest of gigantic irradiated ants. Next door to the theater was the Farr Best Cafe, which was also run by Mr. Farr and his wife. I downed many a sweet iced tea there, and many a fried peach pie.

Click here to see a photograph of the Farr Best Theater. It is not as opulent as Royal Albert Hall or as grand as Radio City Music Hall, of course, but it was ours. We could go there and shut out the outside world for a couple of hours each week. The Farr Best Cafe occupied the building with the green awning in the photograph.

Lo and behold, I have learned that the Farr Best Theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 12, 1996.

If a place is named to the National Register of Historic Places, can its patrons be far behind?

All right, Mr. Demille, I’m ready for my close-up.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades

Here is a little quiz for readers of rhymeswithplague on what would have been my mother’s 104th birthday. It is not original with me. I found it on the Internet.

Here are some lines that may sound familiar:

1. Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.
2. Hello, Clarice.
3. Greed is good.
4. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?
5. Luke, I am your father.
6. If you build it, they will come.

Can you name the movies in which each of those lines was spoken?

If you said, “Sure, no problem, number 1 is from The Wizard of Oz, number 2 is from The Silence of the Lambs, number 3 is from Wall Street, number 4 is from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, number 5 is from The Empire Strikes Back, and number 6 is from Field of Dreams” then, as Tonto once said to the Lone Ranger, you are wrong, kemosabe.

One hundred per cent wrong.

Not one of those lines has ever been spoken in a Hollywood movie.

I tricked you.

The movies are right, but the lines are not.

Each of them must be changed in some way to duplicate the deathless dialogue (don’t you just love alliteration?) you thought you knew so well

Don’t look up the answers. Give me your best guesses in the comments section.

Update, April 11, 9:15 a.m. -- The funniest answer to date in the comments section is reader Adrian’s guess that “If you build it, they will come” is from the Noah movie. Reader Yorkshire Pudding, as usual, has his own personal agenda. But the main reason I’m adding this update is to clarify what appears to be some confusion among my readers. The movie titles I listed are the correct movie titles; it’s the lines of dialogue that are slightly wrong. Okay, if no one wants to play, I will do the heavy lifting and provide the correct answers myself. The actual lines are:

1. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
2. Good evening, Clarice.
3. Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.
4. Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?
5. No, I am your father.
6. If you build it, he will come.

I hate it when I have to solve my own puzzles.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My computer printer is almost human

It doesn’t have arms and legs with which to walk around the room, and I would never ask it out on a date, but it does have one very human characteristic.

It talks to me.

Just this morning, as I was printing down the latest monthly statement of my checking account from my bank, the printer began saying, “That fool, that fool, that fool.” It was clear as a bell. I can only hope it was talking to me and not about me.

But then all of a sudden it seemed to be saying, “Pat Boone, Pat Boone, Pat Boone.”

I never know what the darned thing is going to say next. Last week it was chanting “Chickamauga, Chickamauga, Chickamauga” at me and sent my mind off in the direction of the American Civil War (1861 - 1865) .

Another time I distinctly heard it say, “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” and instantly I was transported to the death of Lady Macbeth and saw Birnam Wood moving towards Dunsinane Castle.

I kid you not.

I’m sure if you listen closely, you will discover that your printer is talking to you as well.

Let me know in the comments section what you have heard your computer’s printer say lately. I’d love to know.

The only question that remains is why my computer printer would be saying “Pat Boone, Pat Boone, Pat Boone.”

I don’t remember if I have told you this before, but our paths (Pat Boone’s and mine) crossed in the mid-1950s. Our school’s Future Teachers of America club had gone to a two-day district conference on the campus of North Texas State College (now The University of North Texas) in the town of Denton. There was a dance the first evening, and live music was provided by the college music department’s jazz band. The featured singer with the band that evening was none other than Pat Boone, who was a student there.

We actually breathed the same air. Yes, we did. So did Dick Clark and I in 1958 at American Bandstand in Philadelphia. I’m pretty sure I already told you about that.

This post and a small fortune could get me a room in a good psychiatric facility.

Not that I need one.

I am not crazy as a loon. Crazy, maybe, but not crazy as a loon.

Not yet.

P.S. - I looked through my archives and discovered that I have, in fact, already told you about crossing paths with Pat Boone back in the mid-1950s in this blogpost from November 30, 2012, which you should read, because it may convince you that I actually am even crazier than a loon.

Not that you need any convincing.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

O wad some pow'r the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us.

Some people are immortalized in cement. I have been immortalised in Blog.

Not mine. Yorkshire Pudding’s.

Which explains why I spelled immortalized with an “s”....

Yesterday, Pudding published a post in which he included some of the recently-made-public paintings by George W. Bush. Pudding doesn’t like them. Or him. He said the former president “is as good at art as he was at leading America.” You can read the whole thing here and also see W’s portraits of Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel.

Being my lovable self, I left this comment: “Your subjects eagerly await your own art exhibition, sire (Translation: Put up or shut up.)”

Lord Pudding responded with this drawing, which was obviously based on the 2010 photo of me over there to the right in my sidebar.

I think I look a bit too grim in Pudding’s drawing. He got the lips a little too thin and clenched a little too tight. And it’s my moustache, not my mouth, that turns down. I have challenged him to come up with a happier version of moi.

But to tell the truth, I am highly flattered.

Thank you, Yorkshire Pudding!

You are a gentleman and a scholar.

Even a bit of an artist.

Of course, you’re no George W. Bush.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

a-One and a-Two unexplainable videos

From 2014, here are some American bison (common name, buffalo) apparently fleeing Yellowstone National Park (1:09). Obviously they are American because they are using the right side of the road. It is not known why they are fleeing (or even if, in fact, they are fleeing), but the guesses range from they sense a supervolcanic eruption coming to they are on their way to Florida for spring break.

From 1981, here is the Lawrence Welk Orchestra playing “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” (1:56). The Welk sound was called “champagne music” and while you cannot see any bubbles rising you can certainly hear them. Nothing on earth, however, can explain the choice of puke-green three-piece polyester suits.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

Today is March 31st, the last day of the month. After today we won’t have March 2014 to kick around any more (and vice versa).

Tomorrow will be the first day of what many think is one of the loveliest months of the year, April.

But as Carolina in Nederland might say, hold your horses.

T.S. Eliot once said, “April is the cruellest month” (and a bunch of other stuff as well). He could have been talking about tornadoes. (Actually he wasn’t, but he could have been.)

April is the month when the most rare and gigantic F5 tornadoes happen in the United States. April also has the highest average number of deaths from tornadoes.

According to one study, May is the most dangerous month for tornadoes in the United States, with an average of 329, while February’s average is the safest with only three. In another study the months December and January were usually the safest, and the months having the greatest number of tornadoes were April, May, and June. In February, tornado frequency begins to increase. February tornadoes tend to occur in the central Gulf states; in March the center of activity moves eastward to the southeastern Atlantic states, where tornado activity peaks in April [emphasis mine --RWP]. In May the center of activity is in the southern Plains states; in June this moves to the northern Plains and Great Lakes area (into western New York). The most costly outbreak of tornadoes occurred in May 1999, when at least 74 tornadoes touched down in less than 48 hours in Oklahoma and Kansas, including an F5 on the outskirts of Oklahoma City that caused $$1.1 billion in damage.

According to Wikipedia, the United States has the most tornadoes of any country, as well as the strongest and most violent tornadoes. The United States averaged 1,274 tornadoes per year in the last decade.

On a website called I learned that May is the month with the most tornadoes and that the peak months are April, May, and June. May is the most common month for tornadoes, but the most powerful tornadoes seem to occur earlier in the year, in April [emphasis mine --RWP].

(Seymour, Texas, tornado, April 10, 1979) [emphasis mine --RWP]

Although tornadoes can happen any time of the year if conditions are right, I am now officially depressed that April begins tomorrow.

However, a certain young lady named Dorothy was caught up in a tornado (and her little dog, Toto, too) and deposited in a land called Oz (4:12) with no ill effect. In fact, if Hollywood is to be believed, she had a wonderful time.

I’ve heard that Oz has that effect on people.

Perhaps one day I will go on a pilgrimage there. Maybe even in April.